Paxton couple headed to trial after infant daughter's thigh fractured

Paxton couple headed to trial after infant daughter's thigh fractured

PAXTON — New details emerged during Tuesday's preliminary hearing for two Paxton residents accused of fracturing the thighbone of their infant daughter in October.

The 3-month-old girl's father, Marcellas M. Mayberry, 31, and mother, Madison M. Morscheiser, 19, have each been charged in Ford County Circuit Court with aggravated battery of a child, a Class X felony, and aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony.

The more serious of the charges could result in mandatory prison time for the parents upon conviction.

Ford County Judge Matthew Fitton found there was enough evidence presented by State's Attorney Andrew Killian for the case to proceed to trial.

Paxton Police Sgt. Robert Yates testified he was in the parents' apartment in the 800 block of South High Street on Oct. 21 when they were questioned individually by Shannon Duran of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Earlier that day, the couple had taken their infant to Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City. She was later transferred to a Peoria hospital, where doctors found a spiral fracture to her thighbone.

The injury allegedly occurred Oct. 20 while Mayberry was watching the infant during Morscheiser's absence.

He told Duran that the child was on his knee while he was seated playing video games from 6 to 8 p.m. When he bent over to pick up an item, she fell to the floor, he said.

After the fall, Mayberry said the infant cried for about 20 minutes but then stopped crying and seemed fine. He said he put the child in an infant swing from 8 p.m. until around 10 p.m., when Morscheiser came home.

Morscheiser told Duran that when she arrived home, she gave the baby a bottle and put her to bed. She said Mayberry was asleep on the couch.

The social-media post

Duran said doctors told her the baby's injury was inconsistent with the parents' version of what happened. Doctors said an "impact fall" to a carpeted floor from 18 to 24 inches, as described by the parents, would not cause a spiral fracture.

Yates testified that he saw a social-media post by Morscheiser saying that she was angry with the baby, who would not stop crying. The post also contained a claim from Morscheiser that she never gets a break from the child.

The parents did not take the baby to the hospital until Oct. 21 because they said she frequently cried. After moving and pressing the child's leg, Morscheiser decided it was time to go to the hospital.

Morscheiser said that Mayberry told her Oct. 21 that he was afraid he had hurt the baby.

Morscheiser initially said she was home at the time of the fall, a story she recanted Oct. 23. She told Duran she lied because she was worried Mayberry would be accused of hurting the couple's daughter.

Custody hearing held

Killian argued there was enough evidence, including the medical diagnosis of the injury being inconsistent with the parents' stories, to move the case forward.

Over the objection of defense attorneys Harvey Welch of Urbana, who is representing Morscheiser, and David Rumley of Bloomington, who is representing Mayberry, Fitton found probable cause and set a pretrial hearing for both defendants for March 5.

Morscheiser remains in jail, while Mayberry is free on bond. Fitton set a tentative trial date of April 8 for Morscheiser.

At the conclusion of Tuesday's criminal hearing, the courtroom was cleared so Fitton could conduct a juvenile custody hearing on the child's behalf. Both grandmothers were called back to the courtroom for that.

Jean Noellsch writes for the Ford County Record, a News-Gazette Media community newspaper. For more, visit fordcountyrecord.com.

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